KBA in Focus: Ol’ Donyo Sabache

In the east of Namunyak Conservancy, Samburu County lies the magnificent Ol Donyo Sabache Key Biodiversity Area (KBA). The KBA, also known as Mount Ololokwe, is a massive basalt rock outcrop with dramatic cliff faces towering above the surrounding plains. Ol Donyo Sabache is a sacred site for the Samburu people, often used as a traditional shrine for prayers and rituals. It is a popular destination for hikers and trekkers, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape from its summit.

The KBA presents an ideal roosting and nesting site for several birds of prey such as the Critically Endangered Rüppell’s Vultures and the elusive Taita Falcons. Ol Donyo Sabache is also a stopover for numerous Palearctic migrants like Levant and Eurasian sparrowhawks, Saker and Peregrine falcons. It also shelters numerous plant and other animal species of conservation importance.

Despite its magnificence and biodiversity importance, the KBA faces many threats. They include habitat loss and fragmentation due to the expansion of human settlements, agriculture, and infrastructural projects. Power lines passing near the KBA pose bird electrocution and collision threats. Increased demand for pasture and water has escalated competition for natural resources between wildlife and livestock. This has led to overgrazing and depletion of vegetation cover and reduced the availability of food and shelter for wildlife. Poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products, such as ivory and rhino horns, remain a major conservation challenge in the area, resulting in a population decline of some wildlife species.

Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns due to climate change have also impacted negatively on the distribution and behaviour of some wild animals.

To address these challenges, conservation actions such as restoring habitats, promoting sustainable land use practices, instigating anti-poaching measures and conducting public education and awareness campaigns are critical to ensuring the continued biodiversity of the Ol Donyo Sabache KBA and surrounding areas. Community conservancies in the area, like the Kalama Community Conservancy to the south and West Gate Community Conservancy to the west, play a crucial role in ensuring that the KBA remains pristine.

Nature Kenya has been submitting comments to the national and county government departments and agencies for infrastructural projects deemed likely to affect the KBA, like the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project.


Unusual and rare: the Taita Hills Warty Frog

The Taita Hills Warty Frog does not go through a tadpole stage like most other frogs. The frog’s eggs directly hatch into froglets morphologically similar to the adults, skipping the tadpole stage! This distinct reproductive cycle eliminates the need for a moist or watery substrate to deposit the eggs. And unlike most other frogs, the Taita Hills Warty Frog prefers walking to jumping.

The Taita Hills Warty Frog (Callulina dawida) only occurs in the indigenous forest fragments in the Taita Hills. This unique little frog is classified as Critically Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species due to the fragmentation of its habitat. The frog population is scattered in the isolated Taita hills forest patches. Unfortunately, these patches are facing degradation due to human activity, such as logging and planting exotic trees. The survival of this endemic amphibian hangs in the balance as a result.

Scientific evidence indicates that the Taita Hills Warty Frog thrives on the indigenous forest floor and spends much of its time in soil or leaf litter. The frog’s permeable skin that absorbs water and oxygen makes it well suited for the indigenous forest environment, making these habitats vital for its survival.

In January 2023, a team of researchers comprising members of the Kenya Herpetofauna Working Group (KHWG) conducted searches and surveys in Ngangao, Ndivenyi, Chawia, and Fururru forest blocks to understand the distribution of the Taita Hills Warty Frog. During the five-day sampling exercise, the team recorded seven Taita Hills Warty Frogs, including a gravid female with approximately 30 eggs. The team also came across a female frog sitting on her eggs.

A notable new red colour variation of the species was also observed by the researchers. This differed from the dark silver appearance recorded in the past.

The visit to Taita hills was part of a project supported by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund that seeks to enhance the protection of the Taita Hills Warty frog habitat through community participation and education. Working with the Dawida Biodiversity Conservation (DaBiCo) Community-based Organization, the researchers conducted community meetings at Ngangao to inform the community on the linkage between the unusual frog and the indigenous forests. More than 300 trees were also planted at a local school during the community engagements.

The researchers plan to continue engaging communities and other stakeholders in monitoring the Taita Hills Warty Frogs.

Collaboration for Mount Kenya forest restoration

Found on the country’s highest mountain – Mount Kenya – is Mount Kenya forest. It’s a crucial catchment area, providing water and other essential ecosystem goods and services to adjacent communities and the country. Mount Kenya forest is a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA), Important Bird Area (IBA) and World Heritage Site. It is home to many threatened animal species like the Abbott’s Starling, Kenya Jewel damselfly, Mount Kenya Bush Viper, among others.

Unfortunately, the future of the rich biodiversity of Mount Kenya forest is on shaky ground, due to threats like forest fires, land conversion, pollution, tree felling, game hunting, invasive species and climate change. These threats have seen the forest rapidly lose part of its cover and biodiversity.

Fortunately, efforts by 27 Community Forest Associations (CFAs), together with Nature Kenya and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) have resulted in the restoration of more than 500 hectares of degraded forest areas, with over 500,000 indigenous trees planted in the past five years. Based on the progress of the planted trees, community groups in Mount Kenya can attest to the success of the restoration initiative.

For instance, the Chehe CFA, with 768 members, majority women, manages the Chehe forest block on the border between Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties. Community members engaged in planting and maintaining the restored sites have also earned wages that have helped them improve their livelihoods.

“Proceeds from the sale of tree seedlings helped us to expand our tree nursery. We are now propagating bamboo, which we anticipate will earn us more than Ksh. 2 million during the planting season,” says Geoffrey Muriithi Wandeto, Chehe CFA chairman.

Wandeto further says that the restoration of Mount Kenya forest comes at the opportune moment when the Critically Endangered Mountain Bongos are being re-introduced into their natural habitat.

“Restoration efforts supported by Nature Kenya have drawn the interest of a project seeking to conserve Mountain Bongos. This project is now working with the Chehe and Ragati CFAs, bringing in more goodies to us. Two of our members are working with this project to raise Mountain Bongo conservation awareness in schools,” adds Wandeto.

The trees in the restored sites have grown to a height of between 150 – 200 cm. Nickson Macharia Mariga, Chehe Forest station manager, puts the young trees’ survival rate above 75 per cent. Mariga attributes the impressive survival rate to Nature Kenya’s support.

“Nature Kenya has continuously supported the weeding and replacement of dead seedlings. The collaboration between the community and KFS has also been key to ensuring the survival of the saplings,” says Mariga.

Maintaining a high survival rate has not been easy, Wandeto reveals. Low rainfall and prolonged drought have presented many challenges. However, the Chehe CFA chairman is upbeat.

“We, the community of Chehe, will continue forest restoration activities in Mount Kenya. Protecting the biodiversity in this area is our responsibility. We urge more stakeholders to recognize and support our restoration efforts,” says Wandeto.

 On Friday, 31 March all roads lead to the Karen Country Club for this year’s ‘Lungs for Kenya’ charity golf tournament. This tournament seeks to raise funds to support the restoration of degraded forests in Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. You can be part of this worthwhile initiative by registering as a player for the tournament, sponsoring the event, donating raffle or auction items or pledging any amount to support restoration. Click here for more details 

KBA in Focus: Mukurwe-ini Valleys

Extending to the lower southeast slopes of the Aberdare Mountains and the far southwest of Mount Kenya forest in Nyeri, is the Mukurwe-ini valleys Important Bird Area (IBA) and Key Biodiversity Area (KBA). Mukurwe-ini valleys are home to the Hinde’s Babbler (Turdoides hindei), a globally threatened and range-restricted bird species found only in Kenya. 


Covering an estimated area of 110,000 Ha, the valleys predominantly occur in privately owned lands, mainly comprising small-scale coffee and subsistence crop farms. Apart from the Hinde’s Babbler, Mukurwe-ini valleys also host more than 315 plant and 265 bird species, among other taxonomic groups. The valleys comprise vegetated stream and river courses and dense thickets dominated by the invasive Lantana camara plant. The thickets provide a suitable habitat for the Hinde’s Babbler. 


Owing to the unprotected status of the Mukurwe-ini valleys KBA, the Hinde’s Babbler population there is severely fragmented and continuously declining due to changes in land uses.


Threats facing the KBA and its biodiversity include habitat loss, human disturbance, agrochemical pollution, lack of awareness among community members, poverty leading to pressure on existing resources and climate change. Human population increase in the area has augmented land use, resulting in the clearing of the Hinde’s Babbler’s habitats for agriculture. Currently, there is no government strategy in place to enhance the conservation of this ecologically valuable KBA.   


The Mukurwe-ini valleys are of great aesthetic, cultural and religious importance to the local communities. These valleys host famous Mau Mau caves, beautiful waterfalls, traditional Kikuyu homesteads and indigenous bushes treasured for their herbal medicines. The valleys’ ecotourism potential is immeasurable. Their scientific value is equally great, affirming the need to protect and cherish the KBA. Wajee Nature Park is currently the only protected site, and Hinde’s Babbler is the star attraction.


Mukurwe-ini Environment Volunteers (MEVO) is the KBA’s site support group (SSG). MEVO has been engaged in conservation activities at the KBA since its inception in 2004. The activities include site monitoring, advocacy and awareness creation. The SSG, with assistance from Nature Kenya and National Museums of Kenya (NMK), has been conducting a bi-annual survey of the Hinde’s Babbler since 2004. MEVO also organizes volleyball tournaments during the annual environmental days to raise awareness for the conservation of Hinde’s Babbler. These tournaments draw teams from local schools, colleges and local communities. 

World Wetlands Day 2023

World Wetlands Day was marked on 2 February at various sites across Kenya. The national celebrations took place at the Enkongu Enkare in Narok County. Thirteen community groups affiliated to Nature Kenya held activities to comemorate the day. These were: Tana Delta Conservation Network (Tana River Delta), Dakatcha Woodland Conservation Group (Dakatcha Woodland), Yala Ecosystem Site Support Group (Yala Swamp), Lake Naivasha Biodiversity Conservation Group (Lake Naivasha), Lake Elmenteita Community-based Organization (Lake Elmenteita), Busia Environmental Conservation Education Program (Busia grasslands), Nyahururu Bird Club (Lake Ol’ Bolossat), Ithugu Self-Help Group (Mt. Kenya forest),  Kijabe Environment Volunteers Organization (Kereita Forest), Sabaki River Conservation and Development Organization (Sabaki River Mouth), Friends of Nature Bogoria (Lake Bogoria), Friends of Dunga Swamp and Lake Kenyatta Water Users Association (Lamu County). Over 3,300 people, including school children, participated in the events.